Tips for Becoming an Effective Expert Witness
As an expert witness, you have multiple duties. Not only are you presented with the task of proving yourself as a viable resource, but you’re also subject to the challenges of the courtroom. If you haven’t set foot in a courtroom as an expert witness, you might not fully be aware of the degree to which lawyers use expert witnesses to prove their point.
Much like a professional in the tech industry, you may find that you have difficulty explaining your work to others. Expert testimony might be no different. Being considered an expert in our field can take years, if not decades, but it is your experience that can make you invaluable. With your experience, however, you’ll also develop the language that can make it difficult for others, even in a courtroom, to understand. Fortunately, we’ve put together this list of tips design to help you become the best expert witness you can possibly be.
Make a connection with the judge and jury
Lawyers call upon expert witnesses to support or verify their viewpoint in a given case. To be an effective expert witness, you’re going to want to develop a connection or mutual understanding with the judge and jury. What makes this challenging, however, is the jury itself. Because a jury consists of everyday folk, it will be important to walk the line between proving your expertise and speaking in a way that helps them understand you. To to this, keep in mind other talks that you give. For example, if you’re someone who makes presentations on a regular basis, you are probably aware of the fact that your audience contains a mix of people from all kinds of backgrounds. In that audience, there are ranges of educations, backgrounds, levels of understanding, and more. A jury is no different. A jury will not have the same amount of knowledge that you have on the subject, so it will be difficult for them to comprehend your level of understanding. In other words, whatever strategies you use to find a balance in your presentation, translate that into the courtroom and you’ll do just fine.
Keep it simple
Before stepping into the courtroom, you’ll need to examine the kind of language you plan on using. Take the time to remove the acronyms, jargon, and highfalutin vocabulary from your talk. You’re not going to get your point across effectively if you’re so far above the jury’s heads that they begin to tune you out. If you find that certain elements cannot be removed from your presentation, be sure to explain them the first time you mention them. Keep in mind that you may have to give a refresher if you’re called upon more than once.
Another way of looking at this is that you can’t speak to a jury like you would speak to a colleague. On the other hand, creating a simpler presentation doesn’t mean you need to “dumb it down” in order for everyone else to understand you. You’ll be doing the jury no favors if you appear condescending, so focus on coming from the right place. Remember, the idea is to ensure that everyone can understand you and has a clear picture as to how your information relates to the case.